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Biography: Nina Gray

Nina Gray

Nina Gray (1956-2013) and Lindsy Parrott of The Neustadt Museum of Tiffany Art in New York City investigated the origin and variety of glass that Tiffany Studios used in leaded glass windows, lamps, and mosaics. Their study was based on the Neustadt Museum’s glass collection, which came from Tiffany Studios after it went bankrupt in 1932. This collection contains commercial glass made at other furnaces, including the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Works, and glass made at Tiffany’s furnaces in Corona, New York.

Gray and Parrott noted that many Tiffany windows and lamps combine Tiffany furnace glass and commercially manufactured glass that was made elsewhere.

“Even after establishing his own furnaces in Corona, Queens, in 1892, Tiffany continued to purchase and use commercial glass from other manufacturers,” they said. “A survey of Tiffany windows, lamps, and mosaics suggests that it is the designs rather than the manufacturer that dictated the kind of glass used ... Tiffany also manufactured and purchased pressed glass, although even less is known about these commercial suppliers ... There has been no systematic analysis of the history of the sheet or pressed glass used by Tiffany Studios, and this constitutes a critical gap in the scholarship.”

In the early 1930s, Dr. Egon Neustadt assembled the collection of glass that formed the basis of this study. It consists of shades, bases, and windows, as well as sheet and pressed glass that remained at Tiffany Studios after it went out of business.

“There is glass in the collection which is clearly from the Tiffany furnaces, as well as glass that is unmistakably commercial,” the researchers reported. “The collection includes several pieces of glass bearing stickers from manufacturers and suppliers including Highland Glass, S.A. Bendheim, and Leo Popper & Sons. However, there is also a large quantity of glass which is impossible to classify without further study.”

Gray was a decorative arts curator at The Neustadt. She earned her master’s degree from The Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and trained in the curatorial studies program of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was formerly curator of the architecture, photography, prints, and decorative arts collections at the New-York Historical Society.